Hike to Battle Ax Mountain in Oregon

Elk Lake Junction Trailhead

Distance: 5 mi roundtrip. Elevation: 5558 ft. Incredible mountain views. Outstanding hiking and great exercise. Minimal crowds. Potential to turn into overnight trip

With no officially marked trailhead, this hike begins slightly west of Elk Lake in Marion County. Take Highway 22 to Detroit, OR. East of the bridge over Breitenbush River, turn onto (FR) Forest Road 46, with signs pointing to Breitenbush River. After 4.5 miles turn left at a sign for Elk Lake, at FR 4696.

In 0.8 miles, turn left at a small gravel road, onto FR 4697. There will be a fork after 4.6 miles, marked by a light green metal post. Keep left, then keep right at the marked fork for Elk Lake Campground. This road is very rough, so you will need a high clearance four-wheel drive.

Park your car at the end of the road (near a washed out hole) and begin hiking west on the same gravel road. In a half mile, you will see Trail 3340 on your right, unmarked. Follow this trail for 2 miles to the summit of Battle Ax Mountain.

This trail is well maintained, with numerous switchbacks and plenty of outstanding scenery, ranging from incredible rock formations, to sweeping views of the cascades, to beautiful wildflowers. The particularly adventurous can look for a lesser-known cave in the area, off trail, as well. There are also many suitable locations for overnight camping along this route.

At the summit, you will see the remains of a demolished fire lookout, and with high visibility, you can identify eleven volcanos in the distance: Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt Rainer, Mt. Hood, Mt Jefferson, 3 Fingered Jack, Mt Washington, Broken Top, North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister. Of course, this view is especially beautiful at sunset, with the setting sun in the east, and the glow towards the west. Stay out a little longer for clear sky stargazing, too.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Water
  • High calorie snacks
  • Camera
  • Survival knife
  • Tent (overnight)
  • Sleeping bag (overnight)
  • Food (overnight)
  • Warm layers (overnight)
  • Flashlight (overnight)
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Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Awesome overnight trip

The road is in good condition, as are the trails. We took #544 up and camped at the turn off onto the battle ax trail. These is still some snow covering sections of the trail. Maybe 100 yards total. Took the battle ax trail down and walked the road back to the 544 trailhead. The battle ax trail is overgrown and a bit scrubby. We were glad to have taken the Bagby trail up and the battle ax trail down.

Snow In June

The description was perfect. The trail is marked 544, I passed it not paying attention to my gps. I will do this again later in the summer to make it to the top!

Excellent description of the adventure, Jeff! It must be a Spiritual experience to catch a glimpse of God's creation from a vantage point such as this : )


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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